Living in London forces many subtle, and some not so subtle, shifts in one’s psyche. The speed at which one walks moves up at least one gear, if not two; the patience one has for one’s fellow human beings plummets to uncharted lows; and the distance one will travel for a single event increases exponentially.
Anywhere outside of London, travelling an hour to get somewhere is a pretty serious time investment, and one that I definitely didn’t undertake lightly when I was living in Home County. So travelling nearly an hour to get somewhere, staying at your destination for two, and then travelling another hour to get somewhere else where you stay for an hour before heading home would, anywhere outside of London, seems positively ludicrous and why on earth would you bother?
But that’s what The Writer and I did last weekend, because when everyone ostensibly lives in one city it doesn’t seem particularly untoward as, after all, it’s all just different parts of the same city. Except London is one city that’s so large and sprawling, it’s actually far more sensible to think of it as many villages joined together by the underground network.
But this wasn’t enough to stop us heading from Brixton in South London, at the end of the Victoria line, up to Hackney in the reaches of North London where, shocker, there’s no tube and where Culture Vulture was celebrating her birthday in what looked like it could have been a car park down a faintly scary alley in a previous life (it reaffirmed my deeply-held belief that I’m just Not Cool Enough for Hackney). And, a couple of hours later after some rather good food, gin and a surprise birthday cake constructed out of brownies by CV’s boyfriend, we schlepped down south again, to a bar in Balham for cocktails to celebrate the birthday of one of TW’s colleagues.
Covering a total of 36 tube and train stations in an evening, we spent almost more time travelling than we did at any of our destinations. And yet, it didn’t seem like a completely baffling thing to do. In the space of one evening, we got to see two people – as well as their partners and wider groups of friends – and celebrate their birthdays, eat cake, drink gin and generally have a thoroughly great time.
It does still feel vaguely alien to me to travel so far and remain inside the bounds of one city. But when there’s so much on offer inside it, the travelling is all worth it.